This guy I know through a friend and some other people used to work AT Livestrong Park for SKC. Every now and then I like asking for some input for the blog when we play together. He’s even coming to the game – so if you see him with me, please don’t give him our “friendly welcome” …
Eh, what am I saying, GO FOR IT! And onto the 2 sided preview
SPORTING Perspective (Who cares…)
We can piece together Sporting Kansas City’s gameplan for Saturday’s Union game based on their gameplan from last Wednesday’s game against the Seattle Sounders. Sporting benched starters Kei Kamara, CJ Sapong, Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar and Seth Sinovic (Matt Besler is out for a few weeks due to appendicitis) in favor of Jacob Peterson, Soony Saad, Peterson Joseph, Michael Thomas and Michael Harrington along with Lawrence Olum starting in place of Besler. The game was much more important than the final score for a couple reasons.
This was a test for Sporting to determine what kind of depth they have. With games in hand against their top opponents in the Eastern Conference, Coach Peter Vermes used this opportunity to use their final non-conference game of the season to see how his bench can play in a hostile environment of over 40,000 people after traveling to the West Coast. For the most part, the team performed wonderfully and drew the Sounders 1-1 with a primarily backup squad. If anything, the starters were the ones who were making mistakes and having bad games. Aurelien Collin played his usual aggressive style but took lots of risks after getting a yellow card in the 16th minute. It was a miracle that he didn’t pick up his 2nd yellow because he didn’t let up his play. Until Graham Zusi came on in the 50th minute, Roger Espinoza seemed lost and somewhat unprepared commanding the midfield. After Patrick Ianni’s beautiful goal, the usually calm and reserved Jimmy Nielsen was shown screaming at Espinoza which I felt was undeserved as there was nothing anyone on Sporting could really do. It was a nice set piece and nicer goal by Seattle. Backups Jacob Peterson and 19 year old Soony Saad had exceptional games early on as Peterson scored a terrific goal and Saad was on target with most of his shots and was much more physical than ever (which has been a weakness of his). Knowing that the bench players can perform when called upon is better to know now than finding out late in the season and it gives Vermes a great dilemma and start thinking about giving these players more starts and more playing time.
The other aspect learned from the Seattle game was that it showed how important Sporting views future games on the schedule. Sporting will play five games in thirteen days so the players will have to have a breather at some point especially since they have to endure 2 cross country trips within a week. The Seattle game became the sacrificial lamb of the stretch and they got away with a point on a night that had New York also drawing and Real Salt Lake blowing a two goal lead and losing to the LA Galaxy. It would be safe to assume that barring some sort of injury or exhaustion from players, Vermes will play the Starting XI (except Besler and possibly Bobby Convey) against Philadelphia and somewhat close to the Starting XI for their US Open Cup game against the Dayton Dutch Lions with possibly a couple changes to the lineup. As far as what Philadelphia should do, they should keep in mind that one more yellow card means that Aurelien Collin will receive a one game suspension for too many yellows. If he’s suspended and Besler doesn’t come back, the two Center Backs will most likely consist of Konrad Warzycha and Lawrence Olum, both primarily Midfielders converted to Center Back, which have a combined total of nine MLS appearances and two starts. Julio Cesar can take a spot if necessary but that would sacrifice some strength in the Midfield. In other words, Sporting can’t afford Collin to get another yellow so I would target him and the inexperience of Olum and go through the middle if I’m the Union. I predict a 2-1 Sporting win with goals from Collin (off a Zusi corner) and Sapong.
UNION ASPECT ( The one that matters)
Now, let’s not get started on the whole “Our season is blown” and “Why bother” comments. There is rejuvenation, there is hope, there is a chance – that something might happen.
Hey, I’m in the “Throw all the reserves out there against SKC and focus on the USOC on Tuesday” camp, but that’s just me, especially considering not that many people in the stadium probably know (or care) about the USOC match and how there actually is some figment of a chance. It’s something salvageable, right?
Rejuvenation- We have a new coach. He put a lineup in that made sense against DC. Hell, they played like a damn team. I can’t say much more than that (especially cause of the copious amounts of beer prior, and firewater, and some licourish vodka). He put McInerney in, who was likely mere moments away from handing in his 2 week notice (I know, he can’t, just saying). Hackworth even stated “Sheanon is a left back, he’s going back into that position”. Does this mean no more strikers as defenders and goalies as midfielders? No more darts at a roster chart? Consistency? Hope – see everything I just stated. Chance – This game should be a matter of pride. Again, we shouldn’t go balls to the wall, but this is SKC, this is the 2nd best team (with 2 games in hand) in the Eastern conference. This is the team that I feel deep down, we all want our team to be.
What better way to have pride than to come away with at least a point? Kansas City is already established this season. They have their standing position to protect, and even improve. As of now we almost have nothing, going forward – unless there is a huge shift in the standings – we’re going to be the spoiler team, at least that’s going to have to be our mindset – get into the game and ruin the teams above us. Also, if memory serves correctly, SKC was in the same boat we were at this time of the year last year, were they not?
Our game last week put our team into perspective – we have a lot of work to accomplish until we become an actual team, but they are slowly starting to get together. DC didn’t put up their best game against us, and we put up an aggressive – yet haphazard one – at best. It’s new beginnings, and it’s the silver lining. This game Saturday IS the proving ground for us and Hackworth. Yes, a week and a half is a short time for a coach to get things together – but I feel this is the turnaround.
Prediction – 1-1 draw where our defense excels greatly. Lahoud will get a yellow card. McInerney will get a goal. Adu will do his little 5 foot shuffle. The only downside – and this is because of having Nowak as a coach it is what we expect as our gameplan – is if we play their game and focus only on defense… But I feel that if we come out like we did against DC last week, and avoid the counterattack, it will be a great game.